Ludvig has been here before. He’s back to talk about a crazy yoga lady, a guy who wasted decades trying to get people to play his dumb game, and the importance of testing things. StartupBros readers know how much we love testing things. Our logo, our book’s cover, our tagline, our name, and even our Importing Empire coaching program has been tested thoroughly.
I was recently at a party where I got into a conversation with an older woman. She told me about her current situation.
For the last 3+ years she had been working her day job at the same time as she had written 1-2 books, launched a website, a podcast, and started selling her services as a… tantric yoga instructor.
This all sounds ambitious and great, but she was not seeing much success. After speaking to her for a while it became very clear why this was the case.
She was all over the place. She was on more platforms than she could handle. She did not really know what she was doing or what type of audience she was targeting.
I asked her a few questions and suggested that she try doing certain things differently. But she refused to listen to my advice and got very defensive, saying that her strategy “really did work but she was just having bad luck”.
[Kyle: This is who I imagine Ludvig talking to]
I dislike people like this – people who complain about things not going their way, asking for advice, and ignoring the advice when they actually get it.
The two fundamental things that this woman needed to work on were:
To test and experiment.
To decide whether to persevere or to change strategy.
I recall watching the TV series Shark Tank a few years ago. The entrepreneur who came there to pitch had spent £ 300.000 on his product without ever doing any market research. He had a really cool idea (and obviously a lot of money), but he had no clue whether it was viable or not because he had never tested it.
I’ve no idea what happened to that poor guy, but in the worst case scenario he spent £ 300.000 only to find out that no one liked his product.
If he had tested his idea in the early stages he would have saved a lot of time and agony.
But if you think that’s bad, just watch this video!
In the video we’re shown Marc Griffin, the man who invented the ballgame Bullet Ball. Griffin has wasted the last 27 years of his life trying to make this horrible ballgame a success, and in the process he has sacrificed everything – his wife, his job, his home, his car, and even recently his old wedding ring. Yet, he’s dead set on making sure that Bullet Ball makes it to the Olympics, and he’s not stopping anytime soon.
That game is not going to make it to the Olympics no matter how much Marc Griffin wants it to. Because it sucks, and he is delusional.
The reason it’s important that you test your ideas is because it helps you…
If you’re starting a business you need to find out what your prospective clients want. You need to get in contact with them and ask them questions so that you can get feedback and figure out what to do next.
Create a list where you keep all the feedback you get on what your audience wants.
If you’re a student looking for a job you need to make a list of your most-wanted employers, get in contact with them ASAP, and find out what they’re looking for in an employee.
The bottom line of all testing is that you need information to direct your efforts, otherwise you will be swimming blindly and your future efforts may be for nothing.
After having tested your idea/service/product and reached out to enough people you should have gotten plenty of feedback.
After having done some testing you should have information about aspects such as demand and how you can improve the offering. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a blogger, a student searching for a job, or an entrepreneur.
If you’re able to figure this out now you’ll save yourself plenty of time and money down the road.
You’ll then be faced with two choices:
Drop it and move on. Heed the words of Seth Godin: it’s better to quit early than it is to quit during the dip – meaning that it’s better that you fail while you still have time and money on your hands than it is to pursue your idea, take it to market, fail, and end up bankrupt.
Persevere and work on your content. You decide to stay with the idea concluding that it’s a good one, but it needs to be slightly reworked, marketed, or communicated better. Maybe the packaging needs work.
Knowing whether it’s correct to choose #2 can be tricky, because the more time and resources we invest in something, the more we’ll care about it. This includes our own ideas. It’s easy for us to get myopic and assume that just because we like the idea, everyone else will too.
What About That Woman?
She was talking about getting herself featured on famous TV and radio shows…
–Well, that’s not going to happen anytime soon the way she’s doing things. The fact that she has nothing to leverage in terms of social proof will make it hard to get the media big shots to even consider having her.
She needs to see if there’s demand before writing her books or selling her services. How can she expectto be successful if there’s nothing to indicate it?
It’s a good thing that she’s trying, but she can’t expect to win big on her first try. It takes many tries.
She has to go through a bit of trial and error and learn from her mistakes. If she hasn’t gotten any traction in 3+ years, maybe it’s time to drop what she’s doing and try something new?
She also told me that she had an audience – but clearly it wasn’t large enough.
It’s been said that if you have 1000 true fans you’re good to go as an artist, writer, inventor, or content creator. But this woman clearly didn’t have 1000 true fans willing to purchase her things.
Why Are True Fans So Important?
Because of customer retention.
“It’s a proven fact – it costs five times more to gain a new customer than to retain a current one. “ – Sam Walton
Studies have shown that by increasing customer retention by 5 % you can get a 30 % increase in profitability. It’s much easier selling to an existing customer (60-70 % probability) than it is selling to a new customer (5-20 % probability). Anyone who’s worked in sales knows this well.
You could also look at it from the perspective of the 80/20 principle – that 80 % of your income comes from 20 % of your customers. The true fans are the ones who do 80 % of the purchasing.
And how do you know if you have 1000 true fans?
Well, interaction and engagement are great indicators. For example, I did a post at a big UK self-development blog that was shared 1200+ times and viewed plenty, but it didn’t result in many comments or positive follow-up effects for me.
That site had many readers, but it had a low degree of reader engagement.
However . . . Does it matter that I get thousands of views if it generates no follow-up?
StartupBros on the other hand is a brilliant example of a site with a high degree of reader engagement. This site has way over 1000 true fans – and that’s what really matters.
Seth Godin, online marketing guru and author of 15 books, has the following to say about professional writing:
“The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”
The main point is this: you can make money writing if – and only IF – you can build an audience.
But in order to do that you must put in the work, you must develop your voice, and you must find out if people are interested in what you’re saying or not.
This is true not only of writing, but of most online businesses. The demand has to be there first. It’s like copywriting – you don’t create the demand, you just tap what’s already there.
Here’s what Tim Ferriss has to say about professional writing:
“If bloggers should spend 70% of their time on the post headline, writers should spend — not 70% of their writing time, of course — but at least a few weeks on the title and title testing, if needed. I’m amazed by how amazing writers will regularly settle for the most mediocre of titles. I set up Google Adwords campaigns to test the ‘headlines’ (titles) and ‘ad text’ (subtitles) that worked best in combination, using keywords related to content (world travel, retirement, etc.) as the fixed variables.”
Even as a writer you must test things.
But you don’t necessarily have to use fancy analytics tools to figure things out– you can also engage with your true fans. Big bloggers or websites do this frequently, often via their mailing lists.
DOs and DON’Ts
Don’t be like that woman I met at the party. You can’t force your content on an audience that doesn’t want you – you’re not Henry Ford or Steve Jobs.